Doncaster Rovers 1 Brighton 1: Match Report

Doncaster Rovers' Tommy Spurr in action against Brighton.
Doncaster Rovers' Tommy Spurr in action against Brighton.
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DONCASTER Rovers again showed that they are a match for most teams at the Keepmoat Stadium in their home game against promotion-chasing Brighton.

Dean Saunders’ men side might have missed out on becoming the first Championship side to beat Brighton in 2012, but the point gained saw them make up ground on four of the teams above them.

Doncaster Rovers' El Hadji Diouf has words with Brighton's Adam Rl-Abd.

Doncaster Rovers' El Hadji Diouf has words with Brighton's Adam Rl-Abd.

Though sending his side to go out and win the game, Saunders admitted that he would have settled for a point prior to the start.

That would probably have been more the case after influential skipper Brian Stock limped off after just 10 minutes with a groin injury.

Although Simon Gillett, perhaps a bit unlucky to start on the bench after his performance against Peterborough, came on and did an excellent job, Rovers undoubtedly missed Stock’s distribution skills.

They got any number of crosses into the box but failed to capitalise - their only goal came from the penalty spot - and Stock’s trademark through-balls might have brought them more joy on the day.

“We did create chances but may be we didn’t get too many shots off on target,” said Gillett. “But it is encouraging that we are getting into the right positions and hopefully things will fall for us in the games to come.

“It was probably a fair result but we wanted to win with being at home. We’ve been doing quite well here and if we could have got a win today it would have been really good for us going into the game on Tuesday.

“But a point is a point and it’s a point gained on the teams just above us.”

Rovers had the better of the play for much of the game, but in truth neither keeper had too much to do, which probably pleased Wolves’ loanee Carl Ikeme in his first game for nearly three months.

Brighton took the lead on 20 minutes with a scrappy goal which was in keeping with much of the first half play.

Right-back Gonzalo Jara Reyes picked out midfielder Liam Bridcutt, who scuffed his shot, from just outside the area in front of goal.

Fortunately for the Seagulls, the ball found its way to £2.6m summer signing Craig Mackail-Smith, who rounded Ikeme to claim his second goal in successive matches after going five months without netting.

Giles Barnes went close to an equaliser four minutes later from an El Hadji Diouf free-kick.

James Coppinger, who can feel pleased with his contribution in his first game back after cracking a cheek-bone at Bristol City in January, shot wide of the far post with an angled effort.

Diouf took a tumble in the box but had claims for a penalty turned down.

The recalled James Hayter, who has missed a couple of chances from a similar position in recent games, shot over from about 10 yards out after Gillett’s shot has been blocked by a defender.

Rovers dominated the opening stages of the second half and kept the Seagulls penned in their own half for fully ten minutes without been able to gain any advantage.

The introduction of attacking midfielder Craig Noone on the hour served to give the Brighton attack more of a cutting edge.

But it wasn’t until the 76th minute that Ikeme was called upon to make any sort of a save - he dived bravely at Will Buckley’s feet to prevent him getting a shot away after racing on to a through ball.

Rovers were thrown a lifeline on 80 minutes when Brighton defender Adam El-Abd handled a cross into the box. by Diouf.

Diouf, who has taken over as penalty-taker since Billy Sharp’s move to Southampton, made no mistake from the resulting spot kick to level the scores.

Both sides had half-chances but there was to be no sting in the tail as was the case in Rovers’ previous two games.

Diouf, who took over the captaincy following Stock’s departure, was full of praise for his charges.

“I think we were unlucky today; we tried so hard and showed a good reaction (after going 1-0 down),” he said. “We’ve got 14 games to play and if we play like today we are going to get some points.

“We have had some good results at home so why not try and win every (remaining) home game, or at least win most of them?

“Today was only one point but we’ve got to be happy with that point because (not) only can it help us but we were playing against a good team.

“When you are down at the bottom you are not so lucky. The goal they scored came from nowhere and they didn’t have as many chances (as we did). But football is like that and you just have to keep going. We still have a lot of chances to stay up so why not do it?”